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SOLUTIONS: How to lure critters away from the garden

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QUESTION: We have a problem with red squirrels and chipmunks digging in our potted plants and flower beds. They dig up the plants as well as the soil. Any suggestions as to how to make them leave our plants alone? Carol, Winnipeg

ANSWER: What works for one will not necessarily work for them all, here are the most effective solutions to try. Begin by distracting your furry friends with a bowl of store-bought food made specifically for them. Place the bowl far enough away from the pots but close enough that they will see their food. Wrap chicken wire over plant pots and make holes for the plants. They are unable to chew through the wire. Or secure large rocks over the soil making sure that they cannot lift the rocks. Human hair, blood meal, dog fur and fox urine seem to lose their effectiveness after a few weeks.

QUESTION: I recently removed the filter from my dishwasher to clean it. It was hopelessly caked with dried-on soap scum, so I tried many things to dislodge the scum without success. Finally, I used CLR, which did the trick. Unfortunately, I used my stainless-steel kitchen sink for this cleaning exercise, and I now have a rainbow-colored ring around the sink where the CLR/water was. Is there anything I can do to remove this stain? Erin, Winnipeg

ANSWER: Put the plug into the sink and fill it with hot water and half a cup of washing soda. Leave for 10 minutes and then drain. Rinse well with water, and dry. Polish with olive oil.

QUESTION: My three-year-old son got scribbled with a pen on our new recliner. It is blue ink on fabric upholstery that is mostly light grey. What can I use to get the ink off? Thanks so much. Julie, Winnipeg

ANSWER: Although I don't know the type of textile that you are referring to, my favourite place to begin when it comes to ink on upholstery is by rubbing shaving cream onto the upholstery and scrubbing it with a light-coloured cloth.

QUESTION: What kind of food is recommended for freezing and which foods should be avoided? Amber, Otterburne

ANSWER: With the exception of eggs in shells and canned foods, many foods are freezable. It is important to note some foods do not freeze well. Some foods that change in taste, consistency and texture are; mayonnaise, cream sauce, cream cheese, creamed cottage cheese, sour cream, fried foods, cake icing made with egg whites and raw veggies such as lettuce lose their crispness.

QUESTION: In a previous article you stated that setting plush toys outside and allowing them to freeze for 24 hours kills bacteria. I believe freezing is how laboratories preserve bacterial specimens for research. Also, if that is true, all the meat that we keep in the freezer would become sterile and we would not have to worry about E. coli.

I am writing this because after reading this article, moms would now think freezing plush toys would make them safe. Elizabeth, Winnipeg

ANSWER: You make great points! Some single-celled organisms are harmful to humans and animals while other bacterium is integral in sustaining our everyday lives. Many bacteria organisms require two essentials in their environment; oxygen and moisture. While this is not the case for all bacteria, it is the case for some. The meat you mentioned is rich in moisture and therefore freezing meat will not allow bacteria to die. Furthermore toilet seats, for example, harbour fewer bacteria than cellphones due to the accumulation of moisture on mouthpieces and moist hands.

If you're concerned and would like to take further action to clean stuffed toys, you may opt to wipe them with the use of chemicals such as Lysol wipes or sprays or take them to a professional drycleaner. Heat is also a great way to kill bacteria but not always an option, since the fibers of many stuffed toys shrink with heat and ruin them.

Slimy Tip of the Week

*Get rid of slugs. Open a can of beer and pour half into a plastic container. Place container near damaged plants at dusk. Repeat every evening until slugs are gone.

I enjoy your questions and tips, keep them coming. Missed a column? Can't remember a solution? Need a speaker for an upcoming event? Check out my brand new videos/blog/website:!


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 8, 2013 F4

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